How to help clients be ‘brave’

By Sarah Boulton

The Oxford definition of brave is: “to be ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage”.

Sounds pretty intimidating, and sometimes brave PR and marketing ideas can feel a little that way to a client. Clients often have ambitions to be brave, but as the definition alludes to, being brave ultimately means taking some form of risk, which presents challenges for internal buy-in. Therefore, when taking a brave idea to a client in 2016 the process needs to be handled delicately and not bull-dozed through.

From creating the Game of Thrones’ Iron Throne out of adult toys, to making the world’s largest emoji crop circle, we like to help our clients be brave, and we believe that there are some simple steps to ensure that the process of getting brave ideas considered and signed off is pain-free for the client, and for the agency.

Ultimately building an authentic relationship with a client is key to getting a creatively bold idea to the point where it will see the light of day, so here are our top tips to get to that point:

Get the basics right

Sounds obvious and a bit old school, but nailing all the basics of client management helps to build trust. Show your client that your account team is a professional and well-oiled machine: get reports over on time, make sure meeting rooms are set-up for catch-ups etc. Although it is a simple argument, it will be the make or break of a relationship, and when it comes to putting forward bold ideas trust in the team will ultimately give the client confidence to take the leap into the unknown with you.

Not all briefs need to be brave

A scattergun approach to brave ideas is never recommended. Work together as an agency and client to spot the right opportunity that is beneficial for the client and for the audience. Don’t take a risk just for the sake of it. A brave idea comes with an element of risk and therefore needs to be considered carefully and done at the right time for the right campaign.

Foster a ‘brave’ team

With a high-risk idea there are bound to be many bumps in the road and having a robust, authentic team and relationship with the client means that you are more likely to get through them. Once this ‘brave’ team is assembled it needs to be managed lightly and every single person in that team needs to be capable of having a client-facing conversation, with everyone client-side, including other channel owners. Everyone should be visible on the account and everyone should inspire confidence in the client.

Avoid the BS

Finally, one of the biggest moments in the life of a creatively brave idea is the client presentation. My main tip here would be to avoid at all costs a ‘ta da’ approach. The trick is to position the idea so it doesn’t look as though you have had an insane rush of blood to the head and got a bit over-excited, but to make it look like it is a reasonable decision. No client likes a hard sell, be honest, tell them about the ideas strengths but look the risks in the eye. Brave work is inherently risky so don’t pretend there isn’t any, just show that you have thought them through.

No chill

Last but not least, don’t relax. Once the presentation is done run with it and keep the momentum. The hard work starts from here on in, and remember that brave ideas require brave people. Be brave.

We’ve been lucky enough to work with some fantastically brave clients that have allowed us to bring our bold and creative ideas to life, drop us an email if you’d like to hear more: Hello@fanclubpr.com.

 


Five 2016 sporting campaigns at the top of their game

By Joey Green

June and July saw Euro 2016 and Wimbledon hitting our screens, which was an emotional roller-coaster to say the least.

We saw England’s embarrassing exit from the Euros 2016 AKA Brexit 2.0, Murray’s Wimbledon win, Iceland’s terrifying Viking clap (it’s why we lost, right? Riiight?) and the infamous scratch and sniff incident from Germany boss Joachim Low, bleeugh.

However, we also got to see brands utilising the events of the year so far, to engage consumers. With big sporting events like these, it’s inevitable that many brands want to jump on the bandwagon. As Rio 2016 approaches, let’s see who cut through with the most inspiring and creative campaigns?

Carlsberg

We’re a big fan of Christ Kamara in this office so when Carlsberg packed him off on the tube, dressed as an older gentleman to reward unsuspecting tube travellers who offered up their seat with tickets, we loved it. Part of the ‘If Carlsberg did substitutions’ campaign, it’s funny, it’s heart-warming, it tackles an on-going discussion about offering seats and it got a tonne of coverage. Kudos to Carlsberg.

Evian 

In order to engage Wimbledon fans and those that like to shake their bootay, Evian launched their ‘Wimbledon Wiggle’ (a move inspired by tennis players) campaign where they asked consumers to send in moves, which were posted on the Evian Facebook page. Here at Fanclub, we love a campaign which utilises user-generated content and the likes of Jonathan Ross, Mollie King and Holly Willoughby all got involved with the wiggle.

Copa 90

Bringing together football and current technology trends, Copa 90 created a chatbot specifically for Euro 2016 to keep fans in the know throughout. Content included everything from guides to articles. Although not in-your-face creative, we like the use of new technology trends to reach an engaged audience and actually provide value, the innovative idea received a lot of pick-up in the tech press.

Orange

Continuing with the innovation theme (oh, we do love to see how people use data), we want to give a nod to Orange who analysed each day’s tweets during Euro 2016 to see which nation’s hashtag was used the most and lit up the Eiffel tower in that team’s colours. Again, use of data, a landmark, and some great colours, made a lovely GIF.

Morrisons

After Andy Murray took home the men’s singles title at Wimbledon, Morrisons rebranded its Wimbledon store to Murriwins, complete with sign. Although the store did it before after Murray’s 2013 win, you have to give some credit for recycling a great, quick-fire idea (and hopefully the sign).

With Wimbledon and Euro 2016 out the way, we’re looking forward to seeing what Rio 2016 will bring.


Does PR work on Reddit?

How to tackle the Wild West of a reluctant social community, by Emily Barnes

For brands, Reddit it is new and relatively unchartered territory- and for good reason.

For those who need a quick briefing, the social news networking site is a space where registered users share news, thoughts or images as either links or user-generated content, which are posted to areas of interest called “subreddits”; with topics ranging from worldnews, movies, politics and gaming (it even has a subreddit for PR pros) to more niche subreddits like the ever popular ExplainLikeImFive (does what it says on the tin). Posts can be voted up or down by other users, with the most popular content going to the front page of that subreddit and potentially of the whole site.

You might’ve seen Reddit gain traction in mainstream media; mostly thrown around in publications like The Huffington Post and Daily Mail who use the more sensational user-generated content for their own stories. The self-proclaimed “front page of the internet” is a monumental platform for discussion and content-sharing, with front-page content going way beyond Reddit’s 234 million unique users and into viral territory. Access to so many engaged users all over the world is an amazing opportunity for PRs to learn more about their clients’ demographic as well as to implement some clever campaign tactics.

But Reddit users, or ‘Redditors’, are notoriously savvy to bullshit. Reddit is fundamentally a frank and honest space that users understandably want to keep that way, and self-promotion is rejected with particular hostility. It goes without saying that employing Reddit as a brand or representative has to consider a careful, honest and informal approach.

So, how do we crack a quick-witted userbase with a reputation for pitchfork wielding scepticism of corporate activity on the site, and use Reddit productively for PR? Don’t be scared- it’s not all bad. Let’s look at how PR fits in.

  1. Research

Since Reddit is essentially people talking about pretty much every topic you can think of, it’s a great go-to for looking at sentiment on a topic, brand or person- or simply learning about them.

When looking at brand sentiment, Reddit is also a great place to check on customer service- when a redditor voiced his anger at being ignored by Samsung after his phone battery melted, a rep from HTC offered to send him a brand new HTC phone on the condition that if Samsung replaced his old one, he donate it to charity. The community loved it.

The site’s structure and function make it a fantastic way to talk reach otherwise hidden, niche audiences, which can be great for pitch research, for example. Use this scope to access focus groups that would have marketers chomping at the bit, including experts and professionals as well as consumers, to impress prospective clients and keep your finger on the pulse for current ones.

  1. Get involved in discussion, or start one

Bear in mind that Redditors are famously creative, witty and honest, use this to you advantage by hosting a discussion as part of your research, as part of a campaign or simply for brand awareness. Transamerica (whose reps also happened to be actual redditors)  launched a financial advice session for users in a personal finance subreddit, which went down particularly well.

  1. Brand image and reputation

A go-to PR channel is an AMA (ask me anything); which is essentially an online press conference for your client that shows honesty and transparency through an informal Q&A session. Ben and Jerry (of Ben and Jerry’s, of course) even developed a new ice cream flavour as a result of theirs.  As the name suggests, the consensus is that your client can be asked anything, so be prepared and don’t push back.

We’ll leave you with some friendly and cautious advice:

Think and post like a user and not like a brand

Be transparent, informal and genuine. Think like a user- from the types of questions you’re asking to the way you word your posts. Relax and strip away the buzzwords- it’s not often you feel obligated to do that in PR!

Play by the rules

Each subreddit has its own rules and guidelines for posting and commenting. Ensure you’re familiar with these, else you’ll get booted out by the mods and, if you’re really foolish, you’ll be banned.

Have a play around

As with any new platform, it’s important to explore for a while to get to grips with functionality and user culture. Non-posters are known as ‘lurkers’; get lurking, you creep. Even better, emerge from the darkness and get involved early to establish yourself on a non-business level. If you immediately jump in with your PR hat on, you’ll get thrown right back out. Take it as a warning!

And lastly, if you’ve got places to be and want a condensed version of how to use Reddit as a brand you can read its official ‘brandiquette’ guide, or, if you’re a PR or journo, the pressiquette guide is worth a read.  You’re welcome.


‘Don’t kill the new biz prospect’, And other tips from AbFab

By Georgie Travis

We had a team night out this week to see the eagerly anticipated Ab-Fab film.  As a bunch of PR professionals, dressed in knock-off Lacroix, oversized sunnies and fluffy sliders it seemed fitting to preface the showing with a steady bar crawl and slew of prosecco; off to a good start then.

Booze and pizza aside, the thinly-veiled ‘purpose’ of seeing Ab Fab was to gain a few pearls of wisdom from Eddie and co. on how to run a ‘successful’ PR business.

We braced ourselves; the characters were rumoured to be based on the antics of PR luminary Lynne Franks, who captured the zeitgeist of London in the eighties with her party planning prowess and representation of London’s elite. What we got was 90 minutes of PR mis-haps, fits of laughter and a whole long list of what NOT to do. And here they are.

  1. Don’t push a new business prospect off a balcony (especially a national treasure such as Kate Moss)
  2. Client retention is key. Don’t wind up your existing ones or attempt to hide from them by pretending to be manakins
  3. For event success, the recipe is as follows: obscure fashion designer + ridiculous, hard to pronounce name= surefire hit; the fashion masses will flock
  4. Keep budgets in check- you don’t want to be stuck without any of that ‘hand money’ for emergency situations
  5. Never underestimate the power of the PA, however flaky she may seem

 

The film was belly-laugh funny, with enough celebrity and fashion-world cameos to fill the guest list of Patsy’s next LFW pardee, and then some. The fashion didn’t disappoint either, with outfits from London’s emerging fashion darlings Shrimps, Charlotte Simone, Ashish and Anya Hindmarch taking centre stage.

Favourite cameo? It’s a toss-up between Rebel Wilson’s unexpected turn as a passive aggressive air stewardess and of course, Queen Kate, ever so elegantly tumbling off the side of a building into the Thames, only to appear days later wondering where the party was at.

Sweeties, you simply must see it!


How brands cut-through the news during the political pantomime

By Sarah Boulton

The political pantomime of the last few weeks has had us all glued to the TV and pouring over the press, eager to hear more, with twists, turns and theories to rival Game of Thrones.

There isn’t a day that goes by without a development of some sort. A perfect environment for PR and marketing departments to hijack the news, here are a few of our favourite brand campaigns that took advantage of the headlines:

  1. Ryanair – The Irish budget airline Ryanair chose to address the issues full on, on its website, where it advertised cheaper flights in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum as the pound plummeted. The airline’s website read: “Bye Bye Europe! Visit Europe for a plan…and for advice on how to play to soccer,”
  1. Saatchi London – The advertising agency opened a pop-up ‘Brexit Tattoos’ shop on Berwick St, ahead of the vote. It was free to get a tattoo with the aim of highlighting the permanence of your vote. ‘It’s your choice but it’s permanent’ was the shop’s motto – Nice!
  1. Pornhub – This is one of our personal favourites, which hasn’t been directly claimed from the company but smells suspiciously of a PR stunt. Following Boris Johnson ruling himself out of the leadership of the Conservative Party and therefore the race to become Britain's next Prime Minister, the 52-year-old may found himself a new profession pretty quickly - as a porn star. An “angry voter” uploaded a clip of one of Johnson’s Vote Leave speeches under a title found as 'DUMB BRITISH BLONDE F*CKS 15 MILLION PEOPLE AT ONCE'.

When hijacking news like this where there are some very passionate opinions involved, therefore there are some key guidelines to follow to ensure that you get the reaction you are looking for. Here are our top tips:

  1. Nail the Tone of Voice – This is the most important point. When doing PR around a serious and heated topic the TOV is crucial in nailing the story. It has to be witty, tongue in cheek and in its essence light-hearted. If it makes people laugh during a challenging time, then your story is bound to be a hit.
  2. Know your audience – Will they “get it”? If your audience is used to serious communication from your brand, then think carefully about how they would react to something sarcastic or ironic.
  3. Be speedy – Timing is everything in PR, having a perfect reactive idea to a news situation is great, but if you don’t get the story out quickly then it loses all relevance and interest. You can even plan in advance for big events such as the EU referendum and have something set up for both eventualities.
  4. Be brave – Sometimes it can feel scary to get involved in something that is so heavily debated, but as long as you have taken all the above points into consideration you will have nothing to fear! Trust your PR agency, they know what they are doing

Do get in touch at hello@fanclubpr.com if you would like to hear some examples of how we hijack the news for our clients. We have a hilarious example from the General Election!

 


WWDC 2016: Key points & reactions

By Sarah Boulton

It was Apple’s keynote event in San Francisco last night, kicking off its annual Worldwide Developer Conference. We’ve scraped the papers for the most important points and put them all in one place for you – thank us later!

Chief executive Tim Cook and fellow executives revealed software updates for all of Apple's products - iPhone, iPad, Mac computers, Apple Watch and Apple TV - with Mr Cook saying the company's work "should lift humanity".

Despite Cook’s inspiring statement some of the tech trades were underwhelmed with the announcements, with Gizmodo in particular claiming that most of the news from the developer’s conference wasn’t too “earth-shattering”. Although they admitted you “could sense an undeniable change in vision—Apple is finally opening up”.

This can be seen most in the annual refresh of the mobile operating system which saw iOS 10 unveiled. Siri has been opened up to third-party developers for the first time, letting users book Ubers, send WeChat messages, and watch sports, all by asking Siri to do it for them – finally making it a genuinely useful assistant some would argue!

The most prominent feature of iOS 10 according to the Daily Telegraph revolves around the Messages app, which has seen its interactivity expanded. Users “will be able to replace words with emoji in a single tap, and send handwritten notes, while special ‘invisible ink’ messages will appear when the screen is swiped, and animations can be added to a conversation that fill the entire screen.”

Other key announcements to note, MacOS replaces OS X and is called macOS Sierra in this iteration. Siri, Apple’s personal assistant, will come to desktop and laptop computers for the first time, as has the ability to pay using Apple Pay.

WatchOS and TV OS have been redesigned too, with the Apple Watch becoming faster and more health-focused, and TV gaining enhanced search.

Big brand keynotes such as Apple’s WWDC offer a perfect opportunity for tech companies and experts in the area to provide commentary – news hijacking as it’s called in PR – do drop us a line if you’d like to speak to us about how we would do this for your business. Email: hello@fanclubpr.com.


What the launch of Amazon Video Direct means for marketers

By Sarah Boulton

Well, quite honestly we will have to wait and see, but it basically means that there will be yet another way to target and engage with consumers, as it is setting itself up big time to compete with YouTube.

If you missed the announcement yesterday, here’s the basics: Amazon launched its new self-serve programme, called Amazon Video Direct, which allows anyone with an Amazon Prime account to distribute videos directly on Amazon’s video platform.

It’s huge news for multi-channel networks and individual content creators, as it offers a new, alternative revenue stream outside of YouTube, which currently takes a 45% cut of all ad revenue generated on its platform. Networks and big vlogger stars are constantly looking at new platforms to launch on in order to build a stronger, more sustainable business and Amazon’s new service could be the answer.

Amazon has said it will distribute a share of $1m per month as a bonus to the top 100 titles hosted on Prime through Video Direct on top of any other revenue earned through content. But, is it enough on the face of it to beat YouTube at its own game? Its not really offering any extra incentive to post or view content. And, it will have to charm some big name content creators over to the platform and that will not be cheap!

The one thing we definitely know Amazon has, is scale and ambition, (well that’s two things but who’s counting), so we’ll be keeping a close eye at who pops up on the platform and will be sure to keep you updated. Stay tuned.

Why not drop us an email to see how we currently work with content creators on our integrated PR campaign: hello@fanclubpr.com


The Internet is freaking out about Talkshow. Here’s why brands should care

by Sarah Boulton

Thanks to Taylor Swift and her buddy Ed Sheeran everyone is talking about new text messaging app “Talkshow”. It’s been described as texting in public, only invited users can post, but anyone can watch.

Other ways I’ve so far seen it explained: “It’s like Periscope for texting”, “It’s Twitter with a twist”, “It’s the new Peach but better”. Riiiight.

Basically, the chat app lets users host message-based “Talkshows” about loads of different topics, from sports and politics to TV, music and entertainment. People notify followers when a Talkshow is live, encouraging anyone who’s watching to send messages, post reactions and GIFs or even join in as a co-host.

There has been reports of the platform crashing, so it appears that everyone is heading over to see what all the fuss is about. It’s just gone live on the iOS app store so join us in taking a look!

The question on everyone’s lips seems to be, is this THE new social networking platform, or is it just a flash in the pan that will go the way of the Dodo (or indeed the Peach messaging app).

We’ll be keeping our eye on it so you don’t have to, so follow our blog for future updates.


Sex doesn’t always sell – our guide to PRing taboo brands

By Sarah Boulton

The sex toy industry is an innovative, brave and boundary-pushing industry and yet this is not very often reflected in the PR and marketing surrounding companies in the sector.

Some of the popular PR tactics by brands in this space include; feature pieces in health and relationship columns with stories around “making partners happy” and “best positions to try on Valentines Day”, partnering with a popular red top celebrity and hoping this prompts lingerie sales, survey stories, pages and pages of survey stories – my personal pet hate is the “110% of Brits have had sex at an office Xmas party” which seems to do the rounds every year. While survey stories offer some level of awareness, they don’t work as hard as other shareable stories, especially digital ones, which also benefit SEO. Integrating with SEO is really important for this industry where digital sales are key – because they offer some level of anonymity for the buyer.

Overall these tactics are effective, no doubt, and I’m not saying they don’t have a purpose or that we’ve not been guilty of using some of these tactics before in the past. Sex and sex toys are seen as a taboo subject in the UK and a softer, guided approach will make an audience feel safe and build trust with a brand, especially if you are targeting a female audience. However, with the increasing exposure of sexual topics in popular culture such as “50 shades of Grey”, and the changing approach to sex in the general culture (with the prevalence of hook-up apps etc.), it is not such a shocking topic anymore even amongst this demographic. Hand-holding is no longer needed but instead being a cheeky/kinky partner or guide is a strategy that will reap PR rewards.

So, here are our key tips on how to do brave and creative PR in this sector:

  • Be the safe yet kinky guide and cheeky partner – basically this involves taking on a PR approach that adopts the “person who’s been to the party before” personality. As I mentioned previously it is historically a brave industry and therefore brands can be confident in who they are as a company and can see humour in the industry as well as understanding the importance of education and changes of perception. We really liked Hot Octopus’s (a brand that is not afraid to mock itself) simple but effective “best job in the world” campaign were they were offering a job to the public for testing their naughty products.
  • Break taboos – a successful PR campaign should work to break down taboos and spark conversations about sex or sex toys. One of the brands that we admire the most for doing this is Pornhub, their sleek, stylish and funny campaigns never fail to get people talking about the subject of porn regardless of the awkwardness of the topic. For example the great Christmas advert campaign with the grandad and gift card had everyone giggling in the pub and sharing across social media, read about it here if you missed it!
  • Build a psychological net – seek comfort through topics the general public feel comfortable with and can laugh at using cultural references. This is a strategy that most of our campaigns with our client Bondara, the second largest online adult toy retailer follows. For example, when we made an Iron Throne made out of dildos for the new series of Game of Thrones last April, which received over 200 pieces of coverage, and in the run up to the last election when we produced a mock political broadcast video using blow up doll version of the leaders, which was tweeted by Channel 4’s political correspondent and was requested by Channel 4 and the BBC for use in the election day coverage.

To find out more about this strategy and how we PR taboo brands, do drop us an email at naughty@fanclubpr.com.